Multi-UAV & Multi-Operator Missions with Visionair
Multi-UAV operations are missions that have caught the interest of some sectors that use unmanned aircraft systems due to several applications they have.
A Multi-UAV is a mission in which multiple UAVs fly in the same airspace. For that reason, civil and military operators see great potential in this kind of operations as they allow them to have a bigger number of systems in the air working in a coordinated way.
In order to carry out this sort of operations, there are different topologies and architectures currently used, where each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages.
From a teamwork composition point of view, we can find the single operator and the multiple operator configurations.
- Single Operator:
In this disposition, a single operator commands the different UAVs in the airspace. This means a reduction in the staff needed to execute the mission to minimums and deletes the necessity of a communication system between operators. Likewise, this structure allows Multi-UAV operation to be carried out with the minimum hardware needed, which simplifies the set-up.
This schema, however, increases the workload and generates stress to the operator, especially in high dynamic platforms, such as target drones or operations close to the ground, which could lead to another possible point of failure. For this reason, in case of using this system, it is necessary to define a clear emergency procedure and it is delegated a big authority to the autopilot.
- Multiple Operator:
In this configuration, several operators, with independent but interconnected ground control stations, are in charge of the mission and control the different UAVs present in the same airspace. Through this schema, the operators are able to monitor and manage the flight of the platforms. They may take part in the mission or even transfer the control among the ground control stations. In this way, the workload is shared among the operators and there is redundancy in the ground stations.
However, with this schema, a clear communication protocol among the operator is required and the architecture complexity increases due to the necessity to connect both ground stations by means of a server-client configuration.
Thanks to this operational configuration, the control of the platforms become collaborative, allowing the external pilots to cooperate allocating the different subtasks involved in the operation while they are trying to achieve the goal of the mission.
On the other hand, the location of the operators includes:
- Single location:
In this case, all the operators are in the same location, which simplifies the technical complexity of the schema and makes the communication among operators easier.
- Multiple locations:
The operators are in different locations so an adequate infrastructure of datalinks is critical, allowing a multiple node network management. This way, we can find a schema where both a single point of the signal reception and a hub that connects to different operators are required, or, by the contrary, a schema with multiple radio receptors.
As we have mentioned before, the Multi-UAV or Multi-Operator operations are missions with a great interest in the sector, therefore, having a flexible system is fundamental to face the technical challenge that it means. Having a technical team that knows the potential capabilities and all the details of the system is as well the key to study the viability of these operations.
UAV Navigation keeps on working day-by-day developing new tools that allow executing more and more complex and demanding operations in a safe and efficient way, which helps improve the situational awareness of the operator.